I didn’t want my first blog post in a while be so negative but alas here I am, though perhaps negative would be the wrong word to describe it.
My name is Jason, I am a recovering perfectionist.
I suppose this behavior started pretty early on in my life. As far as I remember, I’ve always allowed my desire for perfection to dictate many of my actions. When I was in primary, I would take much a longer to do my calligraphy homework than anyone else, not because I was incompetent but because I was obsessed that every stroke had to be precise, every stroke had to look how I wanted it to look.
While this aspect of my life wasn’t particularly detrimental early on, it wasn’t until university that this began to cause major issues. You see, I had always allowed myself to trade time for perfection because time was abundant and I’d always believed that I could always take time out of the other areas of my life to compensate. This did not bode particularly well with my Architecture degree, it seemed like there was never enough time in the day to complete what I set out to achieve. It certainly didn’t help that I demanded every piece of development and concept to hold the same standards as my final presentation. Ahh! nothing ever looked quite as good as my glittering work-in-progress models next to my incomplete final presentation.
What wrong with spending 6 hours fixing all the planes on the interior walls in a digital model that no one will ever see? Why shouldn’t I spend all day formatting and rewriting all my lecture notes so it’s presentation is consistent? And why doesn’t anyone else care when a half-buried pile in their model is slightly shorter?
With every assignment, came the reminder of the gap between my reality and my expectations. My lust to succeed at everything eventually turned into fear and anxiety. Nearing the later half of my degree, there were many instances where I would’ve preferred to not submit a completed assignment which was sub-par and failing the course as a direct result, rather than just submitting it and getting a low grade.
I wanted to be the best and I wanted to know everything but I also didn’t want to work for something that I know I will never achieve. I just didn’t want to make a mistake, as a result I tried to predict problems before they occur. I was never satisfied with my abilities, even when I was very good. In my eyes, anything less perfection is a failure.
If I couldn’t be a world class tennis player, I wasn’t going to pick up the racket. If I couldn’t draw as well as a world renown artist, I’d give up on drawing. And if I wasn’t going to be the most knowledgeable person for a particular software, then why bother at all.
I couldn’t stand being in the grey zone between success and failure. I had to be brilliant or I would be nothing at all. The simple goal of perfection which seemed so attainable when I was a child now seemed so far out of reach.
And then I met a person…
This person wasn’t very skilled in the interests that we shared, he didn’t work as hard or at least I didn’t think he did. His goals were grounded, but he was content and happy with what he’s accomplished. Oh! how envious I was!
He didn’t kick himself for being 10 minutes late and falling behind schedule didn’t seem to bother him as much. His contentedness was awe inspiring. I had already realized that I could never live as he does, as much as I wished, it just wasn’t me. But I also knew that I was not meant to be, the person I aim to be.
So, for now, I guess I should start small and just aim to be happy with my efforts.